Chiara Center

Chiara Center
Springfield, Illinois
Welcome to Chiara Center, A Franciscan Place of Spirituality.
Grounded in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, Chiara Center
offers a peaceful, inspirational setting for individuals, couples,
and groups who seek Christ’s healing presence.

About Us

Chiara Center is one of the healing ministries of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. All who are part of the Chiara Center ministry are committed to the spirit of St. Clare of Assisi who most clearly understood and embraced the gospel vision of St. Francis and cast a transparent healing light throughout the world.

We dedicate ourselves to revealing Christ’s healing presence by offering hospitality to those seeking peace; providing the environment, experiences and resources for contemplative living; promoting the Franciscan values of peace, reconciliation and justice; forming leaders in the ministry of healing; and developing programs and services to promote a healing spirituality.

In a spirit of joy we engage our mission holistically, ecumenically and collaboratively with reverence and compassion.

The Chiara Center logo is set in a circular motif representing wholeness. Light and dark reflect the rhythms of life opening one to God’s compassion, healing, and peace. The Tau cross, an ancient Biblical symbol embraced by St. Francis of  Assisi, invites one to gaze, consider, contempate and enter the Mystery.

Chiara Center logo

The Chiara Center Cookie

Visitors to Chiara Center receive a signature Franciscan almond cookie. The cookie recipe, created by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, celebrates a long-standing tradition in the Franciscan story.

The story of Franciscans and almond cookies begins with Jacoba of Settesoli, a young widow, who chose to be a follower of St. Francis soon after she heard him preach. She developed maternal feelings toward him and expressed her appreciation by baking him almond honey pastries.

Years later, as Francis’ body grew frail, she showed her friendship by sewing softer garments for him than he usually allowed himself to wear.

Although she lived miles away, her intuition told her that Francis was dying. So she made him burial clothes, his favorite almond cookies, and a silk kerchief to wipe his face as he lay dying. She was the only woman present at his death. Years later, she was shown great respect in her own death as she was buried near Francis and his earliest followers in the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy.

Religious historians also found that St. Clare of Assisi (Chiara in Italian) also enjoyed food made with almonds. In tribute to her, Jacoba, and the other followers of Francis, there continues to be many bakeries in Assisi today which sell these almond pastries.


Hear the invitation
Enter the journey
Choose silence
Perceive mystery
Gaze with the heart
Embrace the questions
Rest in the quiet and peace

Retreats provide time and space for individuals or small groups to step away from their everyday cares and enter a quiet, contemplative space. We invite you to experience a Retreat through this brochure.

Chiara Center offers several types of retreats:

Private Retreat

This individual retreat has no set program or duration. Each individual determines the length of stay and creates a rhythm of prayer, quiet and rest.

Directed Retreat

A directed retreat is an opportunity to meet individually with a spiritual director who is trained in spiritual companioning. A private directed retreat may be scheduled at any time.  View our scheduled directed retreats.

Conference Retreat

Conference retreats are group retreats sponsored or hosted by Chiara Center. A conference retreat includes scheduled talks, prayer and rituals.  Here is The Beautiful Struggles of Daily retreat with Sister Macrina Wiederkehr. 

Self-Guided Retreat

Choose your journey among many options we offer with audio books and DVDs.  View the options here.

It is no easy task to walk this Earth and find peace. Inside of us, it would seem, something is at odds with the very rhythm of things and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching. It is hard to come to simple rest. There is within us an unquenchable fire, a desire at the center of our lives, in the marrow of our bones, in the deep recesses of the soul. (Ron Rolheiser, Holy Longing)

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